LSM-ONLINE-LOGO2JPG.jpg (4855 bytes)

Back Issues
LSM Issues
LSV Issues
Throat Doctor
Concert Reviews
CD Critics
Books Reviews
PDF Files

About LSM
LSM News
Guest Book
Contact Us
Site Search
Web Search

The Lebrecht Weekly


Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]

Who cares where conductors come from?

By Norman Lebrecht / January 9, 2008

The cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, all bulldog and roast beef, has been demanding to know why British orchestras don't hire more local maestros instead of all bringing in these foreign Johnnies with funny names. It's a complaint first raised by Sir Thomas Beecham - 'why do we employ third-rate foreign conductors when we have so many second-raters of our own' - and it is as hollow an argument now as it was half a century ago.

Untrue. To boot, both of our big opera companies have British music directors - Tony Pappano at Covent Garden and Ed Gardner at ENO, as does Opera North with Richard Farnes. Glyndebourne Touring is led by the highly promising Robin Ticciati, the Halle Orchestra has Mark Elder and the BBC Scottish Symphony has just appointed Donald Runnicles, born in Edinburgh and Tartan as it comes. That seems fair representation.

By why should anyone give a damn where a conductor comes from? Music is an international language and the first priority of any band is to find a boss who speaks it in way that elevates the players and inspires the audience. British orchestras have, as it happens, led the world in identifying the next talent wave, the under-35s, installing Vladimir Jurowski and Yannick Nezet-Seguin at the LPO, Andris Nelsons in Birmingham, Vasily Petrenko in Liverpool, Stephane Deneve in Glasgow, and more.

Almost every UK band has switched to a younger baton in the past two years and the influx of brilliant youth has left our own second-raters feeling aggrieved. Their gripes are unfounded. Any British maestro who wants a successful career should follow the Runnicles trail: three years as music director in Freiburg, Germany, followed by 15 years at San Francisco Opera, never acceptting a job back home until he had proven himself an international master, with the Deutsche Oper Berlin as his next trophy.

To be notified of the next Lebrecht article, please email mikevincent at scena dot org

Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]



(c) La Scena Musicale 2001-2008